ActionAid welcomes the two-day extension to Gaza’s humanitarian pause, but without a ceasefire, it warns it is not enough to help women and girls sheltering in overcrowded camps in southern Gaza.
Aid distributions have gathered pace in the past four days, with fuel being supplied to hospitals, shelters, water and sanitation plants, and cooking gas included as part of these deliveries. In the last few days, 187 trucks made their way across the Rafah border into Gaza making it the biggest humanitarian convoy received since October 7, – but still less than half of the normal number of deliveries per day before the war, which utterly fails to meet the immense humanitarian needs of over 2.2 million people in Gaza. And while the pause has offered some relief and a little aid, this was limited only to the south where over 1.7 million displaced people will continue to face immense strain.
With over 900,000 people crammed into overcrowded camps across southern Gaza, women like Asma*, an expectant mother displaced in southern Gaza, spoke about the lack of privacy in these shelters.
“I’m almost eight months pregnant, and I have to sleep in the cold of the winter. We are forgotten in shelters and schools. With nothing to sleep on and no covers. Now that it’s winter, our little ones are freezing. We have no blankets to keep them warm. Our children are falling ill with vomiting and diarrhea, and no proper food or nutrition.
We haven’t had fresh drinking water in over ten days, and it is very expensive to buy. The bathrooms are dirty. We don’t have water for the bathrooms or drinking water. It is crowded here. There are more than six families in here, with children.”
Sana [name changed], a mother displaced in southern Gaza, also spoke about the struggles she’s facing to put food on the table.
“We came to the school to find a mattress, blanket, or anything to cover ourselves with. We did not find any of this. We slept on the floor. We sleep without pillows and without blankets. The one blanket we have we put on the children.
My sister recently gave birth, about two weeks ago. She could not find a blanket to cover her newborn with. Cold and rain are upon us, and there is no fresh water. We can’t find food to feed the children. We go to the market and are surprised by the prices. They are unimaginable.”
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communication Coordinator ActionAid Palestine, said: “We welcome the announcement of a two-day extension to the truce in Gaza to give extra time to deliver much-needed aid into Gaza but again, only a ceasefire can meet the huge needs of millions of people. Until then, pauses can only provide a short relief from the relentless bombing and a tiny window to get in a fraction of the aid needed.
“We are deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of women across Gaza who are uniquely affected by the crisis. Thousands of women have had male relatives killed since the start of the war, increasing the number of female-headed households and leaving women to bear the weight of their family’s survival in camps while facing immense trauma and starvation.”
In recent days, ActionAid has started to provide hot meals to over 5,600 displaced people in the Rafah area through its local partner, Wefaq Society for Women and Childcare (WEFAC) but we know there is much more needed. Despite small amounts of food aid crossing the border in recent days, Inaya*, displaced in southern Gaza, also spoke about how families like hers are having to ration the little food that gets in.
“We have no access to water; no clean water, electricity or proper food. For eight people, we are given three boxes of cheese with a couple of fava bean cans to last us for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.”
Riham continues: “After nearly two months under heavy bombardment and a siege that has left millions of people hanging on by a thread, the four-day pause offered people in Gaza a rare glimmer of hope which may be cruelly snatched away again later this week if bombing is to resume. But for many women propping up households and facing more mouths to feed in Gaza’s overstretched shelters, renewed pauses will not come anywhere near close to helping improve the situation they’re facing. We urge all parties to use today’s positive news to push towards a long and lasting ceasefire.”
For more information and interviews with spokespeople, please contact: Tim Brunero, 0405 285 547 / [email protected]